The rumors have been confirmed: Peter Jackson has planned not one, not two, but three trips to Middle-earth for his big-screen adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."
It is a huge announcement in many ways: for Jackson himself, the franchise's backing studio Warner Bros. and for the massive fanbase. We don't know many details about how the third film will impact the storytelling that was planned for the initial two-part tale, but the news certainly adds a new layer of intrigue to the excitement surrounding the franchise.
That intrigue isn't 100 percent enthusiasm, however, with the main concern being a lack of original Tolkien material to sustain three films. Let us turn to a pro-con-pro analysis for further investigation:
Pro: The Decision Was Driven By Jackson, Not The Studio
In a filmmaking world driven by corporate desires to squeeze as many dollars and cents from audiences as possible, the news of the third movie seemed as though it could have come from Warner Bros.; Peter Jackson said it did not.
"We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life," Jackson wrote on his Facebook page. "All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved 'yes.' "
"Also, we'll make hundreds of millions more," added cheeky MTV reader Chris, pointing out the capitalist-minded take on the news. We can't ignore the fact that a third movie will make loads of money no matter how pure and good the intentions that go into it, which leads us to some fan foreboding about the news.
Con: Lack of Source Material
Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was adapted from 1,000-plus pages of Tolkien source material in contrast to that for "The Hobbit," which is 300-plus pages. Dedicated fans sounded the alarm when it was announced that Jackson planned to make two movies from the material; the reactions to the news of the third film are anxious, to say the least, but Jackson cited Tolkien's appendices as part of his inspiration for the third film:
"The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth."
So how will Jackson tell the story? Commenter Garrick Anderson over at Badass Digest suggested the first movie follow the escape of the goblins, the second cover the search for/destruction of Smaug, and the third follow the Battle of Five Armies. Seems like a good guess to us, not to mention the fact that we've been promised some rich backstory for Gandalf and the Dwarves of Erebor.
There are also questions surrounding the production and release dates of the third film, which reportedly only needs two months of shooting, but we doubt Jackson would have made his announcement public before those decisions were made and actors' schedules were negotiated and locked in.
Pro: Jackson's Impeccable Tolkien Track Record
The ray of light in this entire scenario is the unbelievable, award-winning, box-office-dominating achievement that is Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Before "The Fellowship of the Ring" was released, there were plenty of hesitations surrounding that undertaking, and we all know how that turned out. Not only that, but Jackson is not just a writer/director, he's a total fanboy himself and knows how important Tolkien's work is to the massive fanbase.
Take it from MTV News' eloquent and optimistic Josh Wigler: "If anyone has earned the right to experiment on sacred ground, it's Peter Jackson. After his Oscar-winning work on 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, the man should have your faith by now. Say what you will about cash grab this, cash grab that, but keep in mind not just the work that came before, but the work ongoing now. Jackson has adopted an impressively open-door policy regarding his 'Unexpected Journey,' gifting fandom with front-row seats into the production process through his video diaries; themselves less a series of vlogs and more akin to a broken-up feature-length documentary. With the lone exception of the fabled 48 frames per second disaster (the jury is very much still out on that one), everything we've seen from 'The Hobbit' indicates that a truly exceptional series of films is headed our way. Who on Earth (or on Middle-Earth, for that matter) could possibly argue against Jackson going there and back again when the man seems more on top of his game than ever? We've trusted him to bring us this far. I don't know about you, but I plan on closing my eyes, holding my breath, and trusting him to bring me a little bit further."
Check out everything we've got on "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."
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